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Sue Guinn Legg

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One Acre Cafe opening pushed back as renovations continue

September 14th, 2013 8:28 pm by Sue Guinn Legg

One Acre Cafe opening pushed back as renovations continue

One Acre Cafe, the nonprofit cafe on West Walnut Street where everyone will eat regardless of their ability to pay, has pushed its soft opening back to October.

Renovations to the building remain in full swing. The cafe’s army of volunteers is shifting its focus to operations and training. And the community is rallying in support of the $50,000 One Acre Challenge, a startup campaign to help the cafe through its first six months of operation.

As of July 26, $13,174 had been donated. The figure does not include proceeds from Mackie Financial Group’s Barnaroo concert held Sept. 6 at Grace Meadows Farm in Jonesborough or pledges being raised by seven area swimmers taking part in the Swim For Them charity event under way at the new Aquatics Center in Kingsport.

“The community is getting behind our One Acre Challenge,” Executive Director Jan Orchard said. “We’ve got $36,825 to go in order to open in October.”

At the cafe building at 603 W. Walnut St., many generous in-kind gifts of skilled labor and materials have been received.

John Buff, of Hard Rock Stone and Tile of Piney Flats, installed a new 40-foot circular granite countertop in the serving and reception area Friday. A new stairway, handicap-accessible ramp and porch have been built across the front of the building compliments of Builders First Source, which donated all the lumber. More dining room furniture and kitchen equipment donated by Eastman Chemical Co. has been delivered. 

John Maxwell, of Environmental Drain and Plumbing, installed a $3,000 state-of-the-art water heater. Hodge Electrical Contractors teamed up with Marty’s Electric to install the cafe’s electrical outlets and canned light fixtures. Herman and Beverly Jenkins, of Main Street Cafe in Jonesborough, ordered the cafe’s new commercial oven. Allen Carpet and Interior donated carpet for the lounge. Zak’s Fine Furniture chipped in $3,500 worth of lounge furniture.

For the front of the cafe, Foster Signs is building a 5-by-10-foot sign and preparing the parking lot for the concrete base that will support it. A group of local paving and curbing companies is working with the city of Johnson City on a beautification plan to improve the cafe’s street appearance. Ed Snowden, of Omar Awning, designed and donated an awning for the entrance that will extend down the stairway and into the parking area in the style of high-end metropolitan restaurants.

All total, Orchard said about 1,000 hours of labor have been donated by approximately 100 volunteers.

“The sense of community in the cafe is building,” she said. ”Everyone who comes to work here feels it’s their cafe. It belongs to them and to their community.

“It does feel like the momentum is picking up. People drive by with their heads turned to look and everyone we see tells us they’ve been watching.

“The community is supporting us and we’re anticipating opening in late October, with continued support of the community,” she said.

Volunteer workdays at the cafe are held each Saturday. The focus on the cafe’s operations has come to the forefront, and a couple of staff training days to be led by two professional restaurant managers are planned for early next month.

Those who wish to help in any capacity are encouraged to watch the One Acre Cafe Facebook page for work projects and training sessions lined up.

Tax-deductible donations may be made through the PayPal link found on the Facebook page or by mail to One Acre Cafe, P.O. Box 3411, Johnson City, TN 37602.

More information about the cafe may be obtained by calling Orchard at 833-8033 or emailing, or calling Cafe Administrator Michelle Watts at 218-7900 or emailing 

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